The controversy over the Black Rhino Auction tag that Corey Knowlton purchased at the Dallas Safari Club on January 11th, 2014 has been and will continue to rage over the next year. This was a very big and public auction on a very controversial tag for a black rhino hunt. No matter where you stand in regards to this kind of hunting, the amount of emotion and the lack of facts across the board are leading folks to argue this issue based on emotion and that is dangerous for hunters and hunting in general. We encourage all sides to openly do the research before commenting on any articles and to be respectful.
I was invited by Bret Love to personally comment on the following article through our Facebook Page:
Our response was:
I may be one of the only people commenting on this post in support of Corey Knowlton and the auction of the rhino tag. Lets talk about some facts in this situation.
The Namibian rhino breeding program that is working to increase the rhino population is incredibly expensive to run, in a country with less then 2.3 million people and an estimated annual GDP of only $5,828.00(U.S. Dollars) per capita.
Most people in this country survive by subsistence agriculture and herding. The dollars for conservation programs as well as anti-poaching programs are just not there. The horn from Black Rhinos currently fetches close to $45,000 a pound on the black market due to absolute lies in regards to their use for both medicinal and aphrodisiac properties as well as wedding gifts within a certain culture. Rhino horn is made up of keratin and not one scientific report backs up any claims that these horns can be used in any way medically, yet international poaching has continued because of a lack of funds to support full scale protection of this species.
Meat poaching in Namibia and other African countries by local citizens for bush meat is rampant, both for personal use and for financial gain. Anti-poaching teams as well as financial incentives to encourage local populations to decrease bush meat poaching are expensive programs to keep funded and anti-poaching programs to protect species like Black Rhino are even more expensive to run because they must exist in dangerous conditions and must operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Within Namibia, sustainable use of wildlife is an incredibly important part of their society. Namibia actually wrote wildlife into the countries constitution “The State shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting international policies aimed at the following: maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes, and biological diversity of Namibia, and utilisation of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future.” The keyword here is sustainable basis. The very definition of conservation is: the protection of animals, plants and natural resources and the careful use of natural resources to prevent them from being lost or wasted.
This is not the first time Namibia has auctioned off tags for conservation funding, but this is the first time that it has happened here in the United States and 100% of the funds are being returned to Namibia. What is truly sad in this situation is that because of the massive outcry from ant-hunters (who do not understand the economics, politics and conservation funding model in place for this species) the amount of money that was raised in this auction was actually about 1/3 of what could have been possible. Dallas Safari Club actually only received one tag out of 5 total tags and the other 4 tags will most likely fetch 3 times the amount that was accomplished in this one auction.
The Namibian rhino management team would absolutely have to cull these 5 old bull rhinos (and possibly more) within the year. Old Rhinos get mean and territorial as a matter of life and when they lose the ability to successfully breed, they still try to protect their territory and kill younger bulls that provide the breeding ability to sustain the program. Once these old bulls are marked as being a threat to the younger bulls, they must be eradicated to sustain the breeding program. Now the choice that the Namibian government has made is to use this opportunity to fund the program through a yearly auction to assist in using hunter/conservation dollars to allow a managed number of tags to be issued to hunters. The alternative would be to send out a wildlife manager with a rifle to take one of these animals down with no dollars coming in for conservation.
Now comes Corey Knowlton, who has travelled the world in pursuit of his passion for hunting and has worked tirelessly as a producer and spokesman for the conservation of wildlife throughout the world. While his passion for hunting as a part of that wildlife conservation model, may leave a bad taste in some peoples mouths, we cannot deny that the hunter conservation model has put more direct dollars into wildlife conservation then the entire anti-hunting establishment combined. Hunter/conservation groups have been supporting habitat conservation programs for the last 150 years, and support land acquisitions, anti-poaching teams, humanitarian programs and research grants which support the sustainable use of wildlife as a real and effective model throughout the world.
Corey Knowlton is going after a marked animal and he personally will get the opportunity to hunt because he was willing to put up the financial dollars that will make a difference on the ground in Namibia. Anyone could of bought this tag, all they had to do was attend this event or call in and bid on this very important auction. CITES, the IUCN, USFWS and the World Wildlife Fund have all stood behind this hunt and backed the auction. Show me an anti-hunting group that is willing to put millions of dollars on the ground year after year to replace the funds being put on the ground by hunters.
Corey, if he is successful in his hunt will donate the animal mount to be exhibited at a museum to share the story of how hunting is a part of the solution in the protection of these animals. The meat from this animal, will be donated to the local village closest to the location of where this animal is taken and will be used by the locals for much needed meals. Corey and his family has been attacked and received 1000’s of death threats against him and his family and I personally cannot understand how folks, who are so intent on the protection of animals can so easily call out for the death of this man and his family. Threats, miscommunication, a lack of information as well as absolute untruths have created a very tense debate that is not focused on the actual reality of what is going on but instead focuses on emotion.
Whether you agree with hunting or not, I encourage everyone to do the research of what is happening to save the rhino, do the research, check out and read about the work of CITES, the IUCN, WWF, SCI and Dallas Safari Club, as well as the positions and statements of those who are on the ground in Namibia and in these regions where the hunt will take place. Regardless of which side of the line you stand, lets keep the discussions respectful and filled with facts and truth.